New Kerry hurling boss Tom Howard has called for the introduction of an intermediary competition in order to bridge the gap between the stronger and weaker sides.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner after his sides Christy Ring Cup victory over Down, Howard said: “There are several tiers in hurling still and the gap is getting wider and wider.
“Kerry won the Christy Ring two years ago and came back and played the Christy Ring the following year – that is not doing anything for the standard of Kerry hurling.
“Being able to compete at your own level and prove you can be successful at your own level, and then have something that you can step up to is a natural, incremental way of showing you are improving. Of course you don’t want to go too far, because getting beat by 20 points three years in a row is no good either.
“Structurally, there are things I think the GAA can do to help.”
He added: “For a county like Kerry to go from the Christy Ring into the Munster championship is probably a bridge too far, so I do think there is a need for an intermediary competition.
“They could possibly beef up the Christy Ring, which I think there are plans to do. There are four or five teams who are competing in the Leinster championship, whom in my opinion, clearly are not really good enough to compete for honours. While they are making strides and improving all the time, then they go in to play against the likes of Kilkenny and the gap is too big.
“Kerry would be in the same situation in Munster so we need something else to target beyond the Christy Ring in its current format.”